A Better World

Syngenta uses its Good Growth Plan to address the daunting challenge of feeding the world’s growing global population.

Cut the stalk from the roots, and the plant dies. Break the fuel line, and the tractor won’t run. Disconnect the producer from the consumer, and hunger can ensue.

Strong connections are vital throughout farming and food production. That’s why Syngenta is taking an ambitious new approach to sustainability through its Good Growth Plan.

“This is our answer to the question of how do we sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050,” says Jill Wheeler, head of sustainable productivity for Syngenta in North America. “The Good Growth Plan marks the first time we are measuring on a global scale, across all our major crops and market segments, the wider contribution we make through our products and solutions.”

Launched in September 2013, The Good Growth Plan outlines six measurable commitments to be met by 2020 in order to help address the global food security challenge. These include increasing farm productivity while boosting resource efficiency, rejuvenating ecosystems and strengthening rural communities. “For growers and retailers in North America, this is an opportunity to build
export markets by improving global standards of living, especially in rural areas,” Wheeler says.

The Good Growth Plan leverages technology and partnerships to unleash the economic power of rural communities around the world. There’s an urgent need for the initiative, stresses Chief Development Officer Jim Green of Stop Hunger Now, a North Carolina-based international hunger relief agency.

“About 21,000 people starve to death each day worldwide,” says Green, who helps Stop Hunger Now coordinate with Syngenta through The Good Growth Plan. “Another one out of nine people in the world is undernourished. Hunger is a horrendous problem, but we believe it’s possible to live in a world free from hunger in our lifetime.”

Changing Lives for the Better

This is no small challenge in a world where the global population is rising by 200,000 people every day. At the same time, farmland is being depleted through urbanization and soil erosion, and water resources are under increasing pressure. Rural communities, those responsible for growing food, are often trapped in poverty, lacking the tools, capital and access to markets that can make their farms viable.

In response, The Good Growth Plan is tapping into the Syngenta core competencies of seed genetics, crop protection products and integrated solutions to help producers grow more with fewer resources. “Though it’s still early in the journey, we’re pleased with the gathering momentum for The Good Growth Plan,” says Mike Mack, chief executive officer for Syngenta.

Year-one highlights for The Good Growth Plan’s six commitments include:

  • Making crops more efficient. Syngenta is committed to increasing the average productivity of the world’s major crops by 20 percent without using more land, water or inputs. In North America, for example, Syngenta is collaborating with companies that have developed software to help growers manage nitrogen more effectively and prevent nutrient runoff. “Nitrogen management is very challenging, especially during the growing season,” says Bruce Battles, technical crop manager for corn at Syngenta. “We’re collaborating with companies that have developed tools to help growers make better nitrogen management decisions, and we plan to offer these solutions soon.”

    Syngenta is also a member of Field to Market®: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a diverse group working to create opportunities across the agricultural supply chain. The organization’s Field to Market environmental efficiency indicators enable growers to view factors that contribute to sustainability. “These indicators help you assess how some of your management decisions influence the sustainability of your farming operation,” Wheeler says.

  • Rescuing more farmland. Since some 40 percent of the world’s farmland is already seriously degraded, Syngenta has committed to rescuing 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of it globally. As a part of this commitment, Syngenta and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification are working to establish a Soil Leadership Academy to promote soil health.

  • Helping biodiversity flourish. To enhance biodiversity on 5 million hectares (12.3 million acres) of farmland globally, the Operation Pollinator program from Syngenta is creating multifunctional field margins to attract pollinating insects and wildlife. Operation Pollinator has been extended to more commercial farms and golf courses in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific in the past year.

  • Empowering smallholders. Syngenta wants to reach 20 million smallholders, most of whom have family farms of fewer than 5 acres, and enable them to increase productivity by 50 percent. “In many regions of the world, smallholders are responsible for producing most of the food that’s consumed directly,” Wheeler says. “Promoting rural development will help increase prosperity and food security.” As part of this, Syngenta and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will train more than 500,000 Nigerian farmers and agro-dealers. “Nigeria is on track to become the third most populous country in the world,” Wheeler notes. Given the country’s surging population, Nigeria is a key battlefront in efforts to address the global food challenge.

  • Helping people stay safe. Syngenta is committed to train 20 million farm workers on labor and product safety, especially in developing countries. In 2013, the company and its partners ran 160 programs and reached 2.8 million farm workers, teaching them how to use and dispose of products safely.

  • Looking after every worker. In the quest for fair labor conditions throughout agriculture’s supply chain network, Syngenta has initiated a partnership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA). In conjunction with the FLA and through internal management activities, the Syngenta field labor program includes farms representing more than 80 percent of its field workforce.

Taking Action

Closer to home, Syngenta has collaborated with Stop Hunger Now as part of a “community day” effort throughout the region to connect its employees at various U.S. locations to The Good Growth Plan. In Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sept 25, 2014, an estimated 500 Syngenta employees donated more than 5,000 cans of food and packaged goods to local food banks. They, along with their colleagues in Vero Beach, Florida; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Minnetonka, Minnesota; and Gilroy, California, packed more than 70,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. The relief agency then shipped the meals to several different locations, including St. Andre’s School in Hinche, Haiti, which serves 930 students in preschool through high school.

The school’s lunch program is often the only hot meal students receive all day, says Shelley Olds, community engagement manager for Syngenta. “Our mission is to feed a hungry world, and groups like Stop Hunger Now are helping our employees stay connected in a very tangible way.”

While feeding people is important, The Good Growth Plan’s focus on rural economic development is also a key to ending hunger, says Stop Hunger Now’s Green. For every year of primary education children receive, their earning power increases another 10 percent, he notes.

“Collectively, these changes can reshape economies,” he says. “That’s why I’m so inspired to see a major corporation like Syngenta take a stand against hunger and make a significant, positive impact through The Good Growth Plan.”

Syngenta is grateful for the support of its employees and dedicated partners like Stop Hunger Now, which are embracing The Good Growth Plan. “Our objectives for 2020 are ambitious,” Olds says. “We cannot succeed without others who share our commitment to global food security.”

Get Involved

For more information about The Good Growth Plan, visit the website or connect on Twitter with the usernames @SyngentaUS or @GoodGrowthGuide. To share your input related to The Good Growth Plan or explore potential partnerships, contact your Syngenta representative or email jill.wheeler@syngenta.com.